Today I posted a status update that is a ‘take off’ of the Four Spiritual Laws as explained in this article – borrowed from Campus Crusade For Christ Ministries. The first spiritual law is this:
“God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life”
Doesn’t that sound great? When I seek Him and ask Him through prayer and constant open communication – He begins to reveal His plan for my life – gently probing into my inmost thoughts and bringing to mind a direction that I should take – sometimes a ‘stepping out’ beyond what I think I can do. It’s called: faith. It’s also called discernment.
We have had wonderful people throughout our ministry life – and beyond speak over us – or call us to tell us something they feel God is saying to us. One such trusted friend is a woman who has served as an elder at a church where Greg was a staff member for 13 years. Her name is Lucille Johnson. She would probably be embarrassed to know that I written anything about her – she is very modest and humble – always comes across in a positive and encouraging way – she is this way with everybody. We respect her – and her ‘words’ of encouragement from the Lord – because she is always right on. A real prayer warrior – with no ulterior motives and no agenda. She considers herself a vessel and lets God speak through her to encourage and lift up. And you can always match what she says according to the Bible – the true test of whether someone is speaking from God – or from themselves. I have also known a few others along the way who would pray over me or Greg and have a ‘word’ for us. Same thing – always positive and encouraging. This is how God speaks. If it is negative or judgmental – it in NOT from God. If it is contrary to scripture – again – NOT from God – no matter who is saying it.
But what happens when the first law looks like this:
“God loves you, and OTHER people have a wonderful plan for your life”
Those ‘other’ people can really mess us up. And especially when it’s done under the ‘guise’ of spirituality – they tell you they have a ‘word’ from God Himself – the ultimate ‘trump card’ for any argument you could possibly offer. By doing so you would appear ‘non-spiritual’ – ‘out of touch’ – and even ‘arrogant’. So you do what anyone in your position would do – you listen. But what if it makes you uncomfortable – is negative or judgmental – and you feel a personal agenda from the individual delivering the message to you? Do you start to ‘bristle’ at the words? Do you feel uneasy? It is NOT from God.
I’ve had many such ‘other people’ in my life – throughout the years – trying to discern ‘God’s will’ for my life. Sometimes it was subtle – a glance or ‘meaningful few words’ – sometimes it was a ‘direct word’ – either through a ‘word of wisdom’ or ‘prophecy’ over me – or in some cases – (gasp!) even an email. I am amazed at how ‘fear’ and ‘loss of control’ can be the instigator of such rubbish. And even how Satan himself uses people to be a negative influence in my life. Again – if it’s negative or judgmental – you detect fear or loss of control from the individual delivering it – then just smile and walk away. Wait to respond. If you think it’s necessary to respond – and sometimes it is – make sure you wait and don’t respond out of defensiveness or anger. If you wait a while – you will be able to rationally think it out and respond correctly if you even need to respond at all.
You wouldn’t believe the weird situations I have found myself in over the years – maybe you would. I share the next two events with you – both of which happened MANY YEARS ago – to give you encouragement and hope when you go through a time in your life when things don’t make any sense to you and ‘others’ really try to mess with you.
I had a situation years ago – when Greg was earning his Master’s Degree. We were involved in our local church and I was asked to be on a panel of judges because of my musical experience – to audition children for a musical – to be held at our church later that year. I went into the situation completely unbiased – as I didn’t know any of the children personally. The woman who asked me to be on the panel was the assistant director – and her son was auditioning for the lead role. I did not know him personally. I was unaware going in that the director DID NOT want me to judge – knowing I would pick the best kid for the lead role. She had an agenda – another boy who was not as talented but that ‘deserved’ the part (and the Mom and Grandmother of the boy were highly influential in the church) – it was purely ‘political’ – and I had walked into the situation COMPLETELY BLIND. I was asked by the assistant director to be a judge – because she knew that I would choose based on ability – not popularity or politics.
Well as you can imagine – I chose the boy with the most ability for the role – both acting and singing (he happened to be the son of the assistant director) – and was ‘out voted’ by the others on the panel. It was strange to me and very upsetting – knowing I was just a pawn and not to be taken seriously – and the ‘other’ boy got the part. The assistant director called me that evening wondering what had happened – and I told her. I didn’t think it was a secret – BOY WAS I WRONG. I was blasted by not only telling the truth – but the pastor’s wife called me to tell me how wrong I was in voting the way I did – and by defending my position. She had been in the room for the judging (although she was not a judge) and told me I was wrong and had no business to have an opinion etc. Her ‘word’ of correction for me was harsh – negative and carried a heaping spoon full of guilt and personal agenda (her son had been up for the lead as well – and got the second biggest part). But if I had been more spiritual then I would have known all of this on the panel and would have gone along with the others – they were right – I was clearly WAY OFF. It was ugly. It was uncomfortable at church after that. And although the pastor himself was very kind – to me and the assistant director – the damage had been done. I remember calling the director on the phone after the pastor’s wife called me – and humbly asking her forgiveness for anything that was out of line on my part – and told her in my own words what had happened. She admitted she never wanted me judging in the first place – they already had picked who they wanted in the lead roles – and my presence there was just a ‘complication’.
I would be lying to you if I said that all was forgiven and overlooked – and all was well after that – but it wasn’t. We moved away soon after that – but the event has followed me and even hindered me from speaking my mind confidently for a long time. And anytime I was asked to ‘judge’ anything after that – I would have to really think about it. I always judge based on talent - not anything else. I cannot be swayed politically.
Another example of a crazy thing that happened to me: In the next church – when we were on staff – I was even accused of ‘having an affair’ with a man on our worship team – because – GET THIS – I sat next to him one time in Sunday School class – and when we were in a prayer circle in the back room before service – I once held his hand – because he happened to be standing next to me at the time. You HAVE to hold hands if you’re in a prayer circle praying before service! I know you think this is pretty silly – IT IS! But his wife was deadly serious when she came up to me as I was starting to play for the service and said, “my husband will be available in a little while – we’re getting divorced so you’ll have your chance with him” or something like that. Well I was so rattled by this revelation – and right as I’m starting to play for song service too! It was all I could do – to ‘hold it together’ until after song service – where I went to sit by Greg and wrote him a note. He couldn’t believe it either! Later it was discovered that the woman had serious disillusions and mental problems – I was relieved – but sad for her. It was not the first time someone had been accused and would not be the last. Again I didn’t seem to have any discernment in the situation and the pastor even tried to ‘down play’ it and in a weird way – because he would not stand with me – he acted like I was somehow to blame! I don’t think he wanted to ‘rock the boat’ with that family. It’s those kind of situations with ‘others’ that can truly make you feel as if you’re losing a grip on reality. I wondered if the pastor actually believed her. There was nothing done to ‘ratify’ me – or let me know that we were dealing with an unstable person – nothing.
And if you think these are the only two strange events that I have been involved in – think again! I find that people are people – everywhere I go – their faces change but the situations are eerily the same - with a few things changed, of course. And if I’m not careful – pretty soon I find myself being judged, misrepresented and being ‘corrected’ for things that are not my fault and that clearly involve ‘other’ people.
I tell you this because God is ultimately the only one who can judge and penetrate our hearts and souls – to find our real intent and motive for every ‘crisis’ in our lives. “Others’ will be glad to give you their ‘knowledge’ and ‘expertise’ and even be quick to ‘judge’ without knowing all the facts and circumstances – but from my own experience – that ‘word’ or ‘advice’ from people can often times be self-serving and carry with it a hidden agenda based on ‘fear’ or ‘loss of control’. We need to know and understand the difference. We need to keep our heart right. I cannot control what others think of me and that drives me crazy!! But it is the truth. And I’ve had many more situations in my life since then – where well-meaning people have tried to ‘correct’ or ‘rebuke’ based on nothing but ‘hearsay’ and ‘fear‘. So disheartening – it can cut me to the quick – if I let it.
My aim is to live with my own heart right. I don’t try to defend myself or my actions anymore to man – but talk it out with God – who is the only one who knows what the truth is – and He will liberate me in the end. I am careful who I take ‘correction’ from – I shy away from those who do not believe that things can be forgiven and there can be a resolution to any problem. Anyone that is human is capable of messing up – even pastor’s do. They are NOT God. And sometimes – hard as it is to believe – they can also be motivated by ‘fear’ and ‘loss of control’. It is important to know and understand this – then you will not be disappointed when seeking godly council from a person in leadership – or what you consider to be a good strong Christian man or woman. They can mess up – they don’t always get it right. God is the only one we can trust – and we can take His word for us – TO THE BANK.
Who are you listening to today? The ‘accuser’? The person who is quick to blame without knowing all the facts? The ‘judgmental one’ who knows more about what you should be thinking or doing than you do? The one with the ‘hidden agenda’? Those that have something personal riding on what you say, think or do? A person who is fearful of losing control?
I suggest you listen to God alone – and rest in what He tells you through prayer and in His word. His correction is always without ‘hidden motive’. He loves with a pure agenda and gently advises. His words will always be encouraging and lift you up – not tear you down to size. He will always want the best things for your life – and work behind the scenes to bring those people and situations into your life to build you up – give you hope and a future!
And the ‘others’? Pray for them. Live by example. The very best revenge for those people – is to NOT be angry but quick to forgive – be encouraging and loving – accepting and gracious to them. Be kind and considerate. It will really irk them. ☺ And it will do you the world of good too!